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Wydawnictwo: Pneuma
Nr katalogowy: PN 1340
Nośnik: 1 CD
Data wydania: luty 2012
EAN: 8428353513404
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Epoka muzyczna: renesans

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Viola Organista (1452-519)

Pneuma - PN 1340
Musica Antiqua:
Luis Antonio Munoz, voice, sopran viola and viola da gamba
Ariel Hernández Roque, voice
Javier Coble, Leonardo’s hand organ and viola organista
Felipe Sánchez Mascunano, lute, vihuela de mano and vihuela de pénola
David Mayoral, churn, drums and tambourines
Alfonso Tomás, flutes, rattle, gong and campanil
Eduardo Paniagua, flutes, bells and campanil / Eduardo Paniagua
Nagrody i rekomendacje
Music Island Recommends
Kontynuacja cyklu poświęconego Leonardowi da Vinci. Pierwsza płyta – L’amore Mi Fa Sollazar odwoływała się do wymyślonej przez Mistrza figury stylistycznej zawierającej nazwy dźwięków „miłosnej” skali muzycznej – Miłość daje mi ukojenie. (PN 1320)

Viola Organista to instrument wymyślony i opisany przez Leonarda da Vinci. Pierwszy instrument klawiszowo-smyczkowy, w którym naciśnięcie klawisza powodowało przesunięcie smyczka po prostopadle ustawionej strunie


“Music is the food of the soul”. Leonardo

This recording is an adventure through music which brings us closer to one of the most brilliant and unsettling characters in history. Leonardo Da Vinci worked in nearly all the branches of knowledge that existed at his time, including music, although he is best known as the artist who painted the Gioconda or the Last Supper in Milan. He was a painter, draughtsman, sculptor, engineer, architect, musician, philosopher and inventor. He personified the great Renaissance era more than almost anybody else. The music chosen for this CD mainly illustrates the sound of the viola organista. The instrument invented and designed by Leonardo Da Vinci, has now been reconstructed and concentrates on the music of the time of this universal artist. A renaissance chamber ensemble was put together to accompany the viola organista with voice and with other contemporary instruments, such as the hand organ, the lute, the vihuela (known as viola da mano in France and Italy), the vihuela de arco or viola da gamba, recorders and numerous percussion instruments.

This recording is the follow-up to 2010 recording “L’amore mi fa sollazar: Concert of renaissance music for instruments designed by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)”, released in 2011 by Pneuma PN-1320, and of the 1998 recording “Concert of 15th century European Music played on Leonardo da Vinci’s extraordinary paper organ”, released in Madrid in 2000 on a CD-Book by Villamonte publishers.


“He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind. For this reason, I never tire of being useful. Nature has naturally made me this way and I respond to nature without worrying about effort or about age. Time is the being of nothing and every new day is as if everything were created again. Wild is he who saves himself because he goes back to Nature with the rocks, the flowers, the birds and the music of all the waters”. Leonardo.

According to his biographers, Leonardo was an outstanding lira da braccio player for his time, and he used this viola type instrument to improvise while he sang. He also played the lute and probably the organ. His life can be divided into six periods. The first was his childhood and adolescence in Vinci; the second covers the period from the age of seventeen to thirty, when he first lived in Florence. There he worked in Verrocchio’s studio where he began his artistic and musical education, spurred on by the city’s festive spirit. The third period is a mature stage of almost twenty years, when he lived in Milan at the service of Ludovico Sforza “il Moro”, to whom he introduced himself with his silver lyra da braccio in the shape of a horse’s head, in hand. The musical atmosphere of Milan was cosmopolitan and innovative with musicians of great talent such as Josquin Des Prez, Agricola, Cordier and Compere among others. Leonardo spent the fourth period of his life, between the end of the15th and the beginning of the 16th century, travelling and his life was more unstable. He was named architect and general engineer at the service of Cesare Borgia, son of the Valencian pope Alexander VI, for whom he completed different cartographic studies. His studies of anatomy with the doctor Marcantonio della Torre also date back to this period. Leonard spent the fifth period of his life in Rome at the Belvedere in the Vatican, under the protection of Giuliano de Medicis. During this period he devoted his time above all to mathematics as well as different studies for the port of Civitavecchia and the drying of the Pontine Marshes. Pope Leo X clearly undervalued his services however, and he accepted an invitation from Louis XII of France to travel to the Chateau de Cloux, near Amboise. In the sixth period of this life, at the service of the French king, he organized festive gatherings, creating scenery and scenic devices, and carried out an irrigation project for a canal between the River Loire and the River Saône. He died in May 1519.


“Music disappears as soon as it is born, unfortunately for music this is its lot”

Leonardo’s curiosity for everything that surrounded him defines his spirit; arts and matter, the latter being contrary to the question that concerns us here. The part of him that was an inventor and thinker, who experiments, influenced the musician and the artist. He drew instruments to help him to think and improve his creativity. His notes and jottings reflect a grid of introspective fields in a utopian search, which become a theory that he applies to his works of art. A brief outline that describes an idea will be a reality beyond what was drawn. His method is trial, attempt, risk and demonstrable achievement through experimentation.

“The harmony of music is born of the proportionate union of its parts which sound together, rising and falling in one or more harmonious cadences”.

For Leonardo there is no beauty without movement, as movement is a fundamental law of both organic and spiritual life. The passing of time was a source of anxiety for Leonardo and therefore he valued music more than other arts, as music unfolds in movement.

“Movement is the beginning of all life. Everything is movement, and without movement life would cease”.

Leonardo conceives and builds inventions and musical instruments to make better use of man’s corporal development, including reason, mathematics and geometry.

“Music suffers from two complaints: one of them is its death and the other the waste of time. Its death is always linked to the moment that follows its expression; its repetition is a waste of time, which makes it odious and unworthy”

The speed of his curiosity turns a potential treatise on music into an impetuous jotting, writing on what is already written without any apparent order outside his mind.

“Music affirms that its art is the same as the art of a painter since it is a whole composed of many parts, whose harmonious grace can be contemplated by the observer in its harmonious cadences which, with its continuous birth and disappearance, delight the interior spirit of man”.


This instrument interested Leonardo all his life. Some thirty partial drawings are conserved but not a complete design, therefore we think that the definitive model was never built. His intention was to make a bowed instrument with keys and strings that would fulfill the function a group of violas. For one of his most complete models, Leonardo uses a device comprising wheels covered with horsehair to function as a bow and make the strings sound. A keyboard made the bow work on several strings at once and thus polyphonic music could be produced.

His sketches and drawings present partial solutions and ideas that are sometimes modified in the following sketch, as if they were notes or a reflection on the problems to which he then finds solutions. The objective was to achieve a light and portable, complex instrument, with an independent mechanical bow that the performer or an assistant put into motion, similar to the design of the paper organ. The viola organista was probably never built by Leonardo, but it was an ingenious forerunner that paved the way for other instrument makers. The reinvention of Leonardo’s viola organista is attributed to the German Hans Hayden (1536-1613) who designed an instrument called the Geigenwerk in 1575. Shaped like a harpsichord it sounded like a bowed stringed instrument. It was like a large multiple hurdy-gurdy, the strings were moved by keys and rubbed by several wheels producing a sound similar to a group of violas. Michael Praetorius, in his Syntagma Musicum drew this kind of instrument commenting on the merit of one player making music that required the five instruments of a group of violins and violas. The only old existing viola organista is in the museum of instruments in Brussels. Built in 1625 by Fray Raimundo Truchado, it is from San Lorenzo de El Escorial and belonged to Philip III. In the year 1874, it was known as “violincémbalo” or bowed harpsichord.

The Japanese musical instrument maker Akio Obuchi, made several reconstructions of the viola organista based on these precedents, with five horsehair covered wooden wheels. Moving at different speeds, and with devices described by Leonardo, they make it possible for a set of metal strings to vibrate and produce sound.

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